Sunday Shred: Technical Difficulties

Basically for the better part of 2 days I've had this notion in my head that if I work enough at it, I might be able to actually play a Paul Gilbert/Racer X tune on guitar. I understand most of what he's doing from a technical standpoint, I have a transcription of the music that I've been working from, and some rare free time to kill. Why not give it a shot? I've been playing a lot lately, I'm feeling pretty good about myself as a musician.
What's the worst that could happen?
The thing about Gilbert is that he's the world's nicest guy. He will tell you everything he does. He will slow it down, give you pointers on how to play it, and generally encourage you to believe that most of his stuff is "pretty basic" in structure. And when you break it down to component parts, it really isn't much more than pentatonic licks linked together with modal playing and arpeggio shapes. Nothing I haven't heard of, nothing that's so far out of my reach that I can't even begin to grasp how to play it.

So I start working on it. Repeated figures, squeally high notes repeated over and over until I'm sure my neighbors want to break down the door and kill me where I stand. Even I'm getting to the point where I'm tired of running through the fingerings. But honestly -- I'm like this close to getting it.
Oh by the way, did I mention Paul plays ridiculously fast?
Yeah. I sometimes think I can play fast, but not really like that (although to be fair, very few people can play as clean and precise at that kind of tempo as well as Paul can). Fast playing isn't everything, of course -- but it's a big part of the vocabulary I'm trying to build with my instrument, even after all these years.
Simply put -- this is a song I want to have under my belt, even it it's just so I can say that I can play it.
And for whatever reason, lately it's started to feel like I was getting close when I stumbled my way through it in practice sessions. Sure it's a little bumpy when it hits that diminished arpeggio, and I'm still only at the point where I'm trying to learn the main body of the piece -- so I'm not even worrying about the solo section yet, but I'm getting there, right?
..Eh, not really.
Most of Sunday I spent getting the song up to speed (the best way to work on songs like this is to slow them down and get the sections comfortable before getting them up to tempo), and that's where things started to get rough. I'm part of the way there I think, but now that I have a chance to actually hear myself playing it -- it's the part of the way where some people might be like,
"Yeah, I guess that sorta sounds like it. Hey, play Sweet Home Alabama now."
The worst part of all this is that I feel like I have all the little parts down, so all that's left is to patch them together into something halfway musical, and that's where the real frustration sets in. Because literally I end up playing the song, getting stuck or flubbing something, starting over, getting that part right and then screwing up something else, and then starting over, and starting over, and starting over again.

My man Slaus (who was kind enough to post my recent article about Michael Jackson article on his site the other day) has a feature over at Oh Hell Nawl called "Say Something Nice" where he posts a pic of something truly ignant, and then basically dares his readers to try and find something nice to say about it.

After today's disaster, I should probably submit the video evidence of me trying to play this song people on the site can cut on it.
Or I suppose I could just, you know -- post it here.

[Listening to:  Pat Travers - "Snortin' Whiskey" ]


Hex said…
Part of the frustration beyond having trouble playing the song was that my computer isn't all that much for quality recording. I'm sure you noticed the lag between what I'm playing in the video and the sound that comes out, but after a while this turned into full on glitch/pauses that literally cut huge holes into the second half of the song (you can hear one in this clip where it sort of jumps abruptly into the chords right before the tapping section at the end). All of that added together made this as much of a pain in the ass as it was fun to work on all day long.
Satorical said…
Time well spent.
Werdna said…
The playing is way better than I thought after hearing about how it was going.

The video sync however is worse. ;)

Agree! Time well spent!
Heff said…
Looked like an extreme pain in the ass to play in my opinion.
Satorical said…
From about 3min to 3:30, Gilbert's left fingers look as long as a facehugger's. I think you need acid blood to nail this song.
Adam said…
Is it just me, or did the backing track for the later part of that Paul Gilbert video sound like 'Comfortably Numb?'

...not to say that wasn't an awesome fucking clip. Both of them, for that matter.